Day 198, Year 1: Gliding Along on Calm Seas–Day 12
Date: Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Weather: Another Blue-Ribbon Beautiful Day
Air Temperature: Daytime 80 degrees F
Latitude: 06 degrees 48 minutes S
Longitude: 116 degrees 48 minutes W
Location: Passage from Galapagos to the Marquesas, Day 12
Miles to Go: 1324 (~ 117 miles last 24 hours)
Miles to Date: 1626

It has been another beautiful day in the neighborhood. The winds died during the night and we had to motor for about 11 hours, but after our radio net this morning the winds increased a little and we set sail again. One incentive was that we found out on the net this morning that diesel is going to cost us $5.00 a gallon in the Marquesas. Wow! I heard from my sister Patsy that gasoline prices are also high back in the states. We sailed along slowly for part of the day, but right now the winds are back up to about 15 knots and we are going along at about 6 knots. The seas have calmed to almost nothing, so we are just gliding along. Mark wrote another Captain’s Ramblings installment today, so I’ll keep this short and share his thoughts for today.

Captain’s Ramblings 4
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Subject: Galapagos to Marquesas Passage

A few nights ago (well, maybe a couple weeks ago) I was telling the story to some fellow sailors of how Judy and I once ended up hitchhiking to California from the Oregon desert just to get an artichoke. We were gathered for a barbecue under a thatched roof cabana (that calls itself a bar and restaurant!!) on a beach in the Galapagos. Of course, in the course of telling the story I had to tell of Jon Greenberg from New Hampshire Pubic Radio recording us telling this story for my retirement party. I have often thought of all my friends at NHPR and that great send-off. And today I had the time to write them and thought I would share some of that note with you.

We are a little over half way from the Galapagos to the Marquesas – the longest ocean passage with no land in between in the world – 3000 miles. We have 1365 to go and with 11 knots of wind and an easy swell we are sailing along at a leisurely pace of about 5 knots. We have now been out on this passage for a little more than 11 days. It is hard to explain what it is like out here. Until yesterday we had seen no one and no other boats for more than a week, even though we are traveling “with” about 15 other boats – all within about 200 miles of us (which seems close out here!). We talk to them twice daily on Ham radio. Most of the boats are not USA boats. We have made great friends from Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Arkansas . . . and other foreign ports. Anyway, there is nothing to be seen but the endless rolling swell of the ocean and the enormous blue sky with a few (today very few) puffs of cloud on the horizon. Once in a while we see some birds, a lone turtle swimming by, a few dolphins crossing our path. It feels like you are the only people on earth. And then yesterday as I was getting over the shock of some enormous sea creature having taken my fishing lure and run away with it and all my fishing line as well, I see the mast of another sailboat on the horizon behind us. It turns out to be a much lighter boat than Windbird and it is soon pulling along side. We chat for a bit on the VHF radio and then Felix and Monica aboard Makani gradually pull ahead. By nightfall they disappear over the horizon. This boat was from Germany and had not been part of the group that logs in on the Ham radio net twice each day. We didn’t even know they were out here. Since we can only see to the horizon which is about six miles away, it is amazing that we ever see anyone else in this enormous ocean. They could have passed us ten miles away and we would never have known it.

There is a calming peacefulness to this kind of sailing. There is the soft swishing sound of the boat cutting through the water, and a gentle cooling breeze that makes the warmth of the sun feel welcome. Of course, we spend most of our time in the cockpit under the shade of the bimini. As I write, Judy is reading a Nelson DeMille thriller. We have a couple of books by him onboard and they are great reading when you are on watch in the middle of the night – they will really keep you awake!

Anyway, I find myself at a loss for words to describe this passage. Time takes on a whole new dimension. When we arrive in the Marquesas we will have been at sea 22 to 30 days – depending on how much wind we get from here on. You could wonder at what there is to do on a small boat for that long. Well, we never seem to lack for things that eat up our time. In fact, we have too little time for things like writing to friends and reading. Of course, much time is taken in just living. We spell each other sleeping during the night so neither of us gets a full nights rest. That means we each do some catching up with naps during the day. Then there are meals to fix which can take twice as long as at home because you are working on a moving, tilted surface where everything that is not tied down slides away or tips over. And we do have to spend some time each day on the boat – adjusting sails, cleaning, checking engine oil and changing filters, inspecting everything to see if something is working loose or if chafe is wearing through a line or a sail. The days do pass, and though in one way we are anxious to get to the Marquesas so we have as much time to enjoy them as possible, in another way we are simply enjoying the passage. One day melds into another. We simply take each day as it comes and don’t try to hurry it along. And though we seem to always be busy, I don’t mean to say this is anything like being busy at work. We don’t have deadlines. For the most part no one else depends on the work we do, but the success of this passage depends on the careful inspection and maintenance, resting enough to be really alert, making sure that no matter how rough it gets, we have plenty to eat. Out here, it is just Judy, myself, and Windbird sailing long on this endless and beautiful sea of blue.